Soshi Takeda

There’s something profound about the uncanny, half-rendered graphics of 1990s technology. The same way space-age art from the 1950s sought to capture the unattainable dream of travelling through the stars in small flying cars, the eerily smooth computer models of ’90s games like Myst carry an unmistakable sense of yearning—a reach for perfection that comes up almost laughably short, but in the process becomes beautiful in an entirely new way. Beyond those unfinished edges, the mind can run wild with the world-building possibilities in a way that it no longer can in an era in which every detail comes alive in Ultra HD resolution. Going back and listening to music or watching movies from that era, the technological seams are always so much more obvious than they were at the time, but the imperfections begin to take on their own alluring quality. That’s the space Tokyo producer Soshi Takeda’s music inhabits.

Takeda hasn’t released much until now—just a small string of wonky new-age singles and glistening elevator-funk releases, as well as a sublimely groovy tape last year that pulsed with a warm, analog glow. But Floating Mountains, his new release for 100% Silk, takes his sound in a different direction. Using only hardware and samplers from the ’90s, Takeda captures the era’s flat, crystalline sounds, sketching evocative landscapes out of their cold, digital sheen. Like a post-vaporwave take on deep house, Takeda’s production is still very much indebted to Larry Heard, albeit more Sceneries Not Songs than Ammnesia. His dance music feels meant for meditation more than actual dancing, a slowly enveloping mist of pulsing bass and synths that shimmer like crystals suspended in midair.

Throughout Floating Mountains, Takeda pulls off a trick where he immediately drops the listener into the thick of a deep trance, then gradually loosens up the rhythm until it becomes almost playful. The title track abruptly opens on peak time at the club, all dense chords and hypnotic hi-hats, before a snaky MIDI melody makes its way to the forefront and carries the track away to Balearic bliss. It’s the type of song you could accidentally leave playing on repeat for an hour without realizing, let alone caring. Takeda’s music naturally lends itself to this endlessly looping quality—“Ancient Fish” evokes turn-of-the-century video-game music, channeling the same plastic Pacific Island simulacrum as the Final Fantasy X soundtrack with its ominous steel drums and urgent, dungeon-ready congas.

The songs on Floating Mountains function best in dimly lit rooms where the imagination can summon images that aren’t really there. That’s particularly true on “Deep Breath,” included here as a digital bonus track after being featured earlier this year on the excellent 2nd Life Silk compilation. Cruising on a seemingly straightforward arpeggio that somehow becomes darker and more mysterious the longer the track goes on, Takeda delicately layers its loungey beat with the soft sound of rain sticks, light hand percussion, and, finally, a mesmerizing Ash Ra-worthy guitar bridge. It’s the deepest kind of head-nodder, the kind that slowly sneaks up on you until it becomes an almost spiritual experience. Floating Mountains is full of these moments; Takeda is forever finding new ways to pull back the curtain on his icy textures, revealing oceans and valleys of feeling. It’s magical in the way only the most artificial sounds can be.

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